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FT: Putin’s Attempt to Recreate the Soviet Empire Is Futile

Author: Lilia Shevtsova
January 7, 2014


"The Eurasian project is a mirage of a post-Soviet archipelago in which authoritarian leaders use each other to preserve their power. It may last a little longer. But before long, the sun will set on Mr Putin's imperial ambitions."

According to Vladimir Putin, the "Eurasian Union" that the Kremlin hopes to forge with two of Russia's southwestern neighbours will be a family affair, drawing together like-minded states. Others are not so sure, fearing that the Russian president's wholesome rhetoric of fraternity belies a more sinister truth. In much of Europe, the proposed pact is viewed as an attempt to revive the Soviet Union and rekindle the cold war.

If that is indeed Mr Putin's aim, one can only guess at his motives. Perhaps the successor to Boris Yeltsin, divider of the Soviet realm, aims to secure a place in history as the leader responsible for its reunification. But the Russian president is also confronting a more prosaic imperative. As the Kremlin confronts a weakening of the props that have enabled it to maintain power, Mr Putin has turned to imperialism as a flying buttress for Russian authoritarianism.

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